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Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits

Valve announces an updated Steam Subscriber Agreement, becoming the latest company to attempt to avoid potential class action lawsuits by prohibiting them as a term of service. Here is their explanation of this:

Weíre also introducing a new dispute resolution process that will benefit you and Valve. Recently, a number of companies have created similar provisions which have generated lots of discussion from customers and communities, and weíve been following these discussions closely. On Steam, whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process. However in those instances in which we can't resolve a dispute, we've outlined a new required process whereby we agree to use arbitration or small claims court to resolve the dispute. In the arbitration process, Valve will reimburse your costs of the arbitration for claims under a certain amount. Reimbursement by Valve is provided regardless of the arbitratorís decision, provided that the arbitrator does not determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable.

Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. We considered this change very carefully. Itís clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions donít provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.

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138. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:20 Dev
Mr. Tact wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 07:54:
I don't know if you couldn't find comparison to my owning a book, or just didn't think or care to.

If you believe what you are saying, then can you explain why books couldn't, shouldn't, aren't marketed in the same way? (Let's ignore electronic books for the moment).
Because we got lucky.

No, seriously, thats why. Book makers controlled books that tightly in england for something like a couple hundred years (I believe other european countries were similar). No one could publish or reproduce any books without the Stationers permission. That monopoly made censorship easy. If we had been unlucky, that would have continued. In the 17th century, they didn't bribe the parliament enough so weren't able to renew their charter. Shortly thereafter, the limited term 21 year copyright came into being, and it was designed to encourage the spread of information and make it ok to copy stuff after that term expired, to encourage artistic expression and creativity and innovation. After that, copyright carried over to America, and is in the constitution, and as time passed and treaties passed, copyright spread amongst world powers, and other countries were pressured to accept.

Book publishers would LOVE to see that kinda control come back. They've tried to shut down international book trade (where you buy international versions of school text books and save a bunch of money). Some publishers let you "rent" school ebooks for some stupid terms, like 15% off the inflated hardback price but only giving you the ability to use it for 6 months. We are lucky that amazon got the ebook trade so popular without a crazy insane DRM scheme, since publishers have been trying to control ebooks with crazy DRM schemes in the past.

Publishers also screw over authors big time with ebooks. The biggest authors/writers association made concessions about ebooks to get concessions out of publishers regarding audits of royalties (all the "experts" told authors ebooks would never take off so they sold their members it was a meaningless concession) , so now almost all contracts of the big publishing houses totally screw authors on terms with ebooks. Authors get almost nothing despite them being almost pure profit, since the publishers apply the physical contract terms to ebooks, and almost none of them should apply. They get screwed in ebooks almost as bad as the average musicians get screwed by big music publishers. And despite that, publishers weren't satisfied with the $9.99 previously standard ebook price, got greedy and have universally tried to push that up. That got the attention of the DoJ which is currently investigating them for price collusion. Fortunately amazon is a good place for indies to flourish without those crazy contracts. In some ways they are similar to steam in helping indies flourish and vastly increase digital sales.

As a side note, the first publishers in USA preferred copying european books to publishing American authors since they figured across an ocean was far enough that they didn't have to pay royalties, so most of the earliest publishing was all pirated. Just like hollywood was started in the west coast because they wanted to get away from paying fees to the people who owned the patents in NYC, so they all ran as far across the country as they could get. Hollywood literally started out 100% because of illegally avoiding paying licensing fees. The location in LA was close enough to mexico that they could run for the border if edison agents came for a raid. Its ironic how they've changed.

Edit for some links if anyone cares to read further:
wiki MPPC link, starting place for hollywood
wiki stationers link, starting place about stationers
good analysis about amazon and ebooks
author blog about publishers
goodreads link about publishers

This comment was edited on Aug 2, 2012, 10:43.
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